When you first start Skyrim Special Edition, all you have in your pockets is some ragged trousers, a rather blunt weapon of some sort, and the burning need to find some better armour unless you want to be mauled to death by the very first wolf you encounter. Luckily, buried across Skyrim are a series of hidden chests. Supposedly existing because those merchant caravans need to have somewhere to store their goods, if you keep your eyes peeled (and no, that isn’t some twisted destruction spell), you can hunt them down and pilfer their valuable contents. They're so lucrative we're keeping our fingers crossed for them being in Elder Scrolls 6 too.
Each chest contains a random collection of weapons (some are enchanted), armour, soul gems, potion ingredients, and miscellaneous trading items. The good news is that they all scale according to your level, and they respawn. Meaning you can go back time after time to get whatever you need (or just really badly want) from each chest. Here’s exactly where to find them, and you’ll want to pay special attention to the instructions because most of the time they’re invisible. Guess those merchants are more skilled in illusion that they appear. Happy hunting!
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First head to the gatehouse just outside of the main entrance. Make sure you’re facing it so you can see Solitude through the doorway, then head right to the large green bush just in front of the small wall. Keep your cursor pointed at the ground, and investigate the area around the tuft of grass just in front of and a bit to the left of the green bush. The bit of grass is in between two patches of green leaves on the ground.
Head into the town, go past The White Hall and stop when you get to Iron-Breaker Mine. Go towards the clump of three rocks by the left-hand side of the entrance, the ones that are clustered beside the pine tree. Get ready, because these instructions are about to get very specific. Hover your cursor to about one quarter of the way up the right-hand side of the uppermost rock and you’ll find the invisible chest right there.
Make sure you’re standing outside the entrance to Markarth. Head down the rocky path that leads out of Markarth’s entrance area, past the windmill, but don’t go over the bridge. Instead, when you get to it, take a left and walk to the low rock wall that’s just in front of the Juniper tree on the left of the bridge. Make sure you’re on the side nearest to the river. Carefully investigate the area directly to the south of the wood pile (it’s only a couple of yards away at most), and there you’ll find the chest.
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This chest involves taking advantage of a glitch, so be prepared to break Skyrim a little bit to get it. Enter Whiterun, then when you’re at the gate turn right, and then right again to head into the sheltered alcove. There’s a barrel positioned against the wall. Jump onto it, then jump right onto the wall to the North of the barrel. Jump off the wall to find yourself outside of Whiterun. Yes, this is the game-breaking bit. Follow the outer wall all the way to the right, and don’t be alarmed when you see bits of the ground missing. When you’re right behind Jorrvaskr, the hall of the Companions (which is east of Dragonsreach on the map), walk up the eerily-empty space behind the mounds of rocks. Climb up onto the rocks, and glitch through the top one. Now you’re underneath the Skyforge, and you’ll be able to see Jorrvaskr hovering right in front of you.
Face south and you’ll also see a chest floating in midair. It belongs to Eorlund Grey-Mane, the only person who can create Skyforge steel. Run towards it, and jump when you’re a couple of meters away. You’ll start to fall through the world, but if you click quick enough you’ll still be able to open the chest to get at the goodies within.
Inside the Blue Palace in Solitude
Ready to break Skyrim again? Yes? Good. Stroll on down to Solitude’s Blue Palace and - bear with me - grab the silver platter on the table in the palace’s foyer. Hold it in front of you and go down the corridor on the left-hand side. Stop by the first bench that you get to. Now - this is the tricky bit - slide the platter behind the right-hand side of the bench, so it’s in between the bit of Nordic furniture and the wall. Once it’s stuck, walk towards and through the silver platter.
Oh, Skyrim. We love how broken you are sometimes. Now you’re in some kind of limbo space. Look to your left and you’ll see a chest in midair. Walk along the strange plank that stretches into the bizarrely empty space. Position yourself so you’re facing it, then allow yourself to fall down. Quickly tap the button to steal from the chest on your way down, and you’ll be able to grab everything in there in midair.
Even if you’re not particularly eager to throw fireballs with your bare hands or summon Daedra from Oblivion (to which I reply why, dear god why would you not want that), you’re should enter Winterhold College just for this chest. Make your way into the Hall of Attainment, grab a silver platter, and go to the staircase at the back of the central room. Push the platter against the stone wall just beside the haystacks (about a yard to the side of them should do the trick).
At the same time, run forward with the silver platter right in front of you and you’ll glitch through the wall. Immediately turn to your right and click on one of the two chests floating in midair to access their contents. This one will almost definitely take a couple of tries (or at least a dozen, if you’re anything like me), as you need to get your trajectory just right to get close enough to click on the chests. You’ll be falling the entire time, so there’s little you can do to get closer to the chests besides trying again, and again, and again...